The Renegade name has been part of the Jeep lexicon since at least as far back as 1964, when it appeared as a trim option on the Jeep Wagoneer. It has reappeared frequently since then, usually as a trim level variant on vehicles as divergent as the CJ5 -7/Wrangler and the early 2000s Liberty.
Now it's back again but this time as a full model designation for the all new "baby Jeep," which made its world debut this week at the Geneva International Motor Show.
The new Renegade is destined to play a major role in Jeep's portfolio as it attempts to become a global brand, available in 100 countries.
To that end, the Renegade is based on the Fiat Chrysler Automobile (FCA) "small wide" platform that also underpins the Fiat 500L, as well as the Alfa Romeo MiTo and Fiat Doblo.
Designed in the U.S., with strong Jeep styling cues, the Rendezvous will be built in Melfi, Italy, and later in Brazil.
Jeep executives are rightly concerned about dilution of the brand's tough off-road persona, as occurred with the cute-ute Compass/Patriot twins, so they've gone to great lengths to give the Rendezvous serious off-road creds, including availability of a Trailhawk version.
It offers 4x4 Trail Rated capability with class-exclusive Jeep Active Drive Low, which includes 20:1 crawl ratio and Jeep Selec-Terrain system.
Borrowing technology from the new Jeep Cherokee, the Renegade offers two of the intelligent 4x4 systems, each of which can provide up to 100 percent of the engine’s available torque to the ground, through any wheel, for optimal grip.
World-wide, 16 different powertrain combinations will be offered in various markets – including the world’s first nine-speed automatic transmission in a small CUV.